Venue: Woodhatch Place, 11 Cockshot Hill, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 8EF
Contact: Amelia Christopher
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
The Chair to report apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received fromJohn Beckett, Stephen Cooksey, Paul Deach, Nick Harrison, Eber Kington, Michaela Martin, Julia McShane, George Potter, John Robini, Richard Tear, Alison Todd, Fiona White.
Members who attended remotely and had no voting rights were Amanda Boote, Kevin Deanus, Robert Evans, Matt Furniss, Jan Mason, John O’Reilly, Denise Turner-Stewart,Buddhi Weerasinghe.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Council held on 8 February 2022.
The minutes of the meeting of the County Council held on 8 February 2022 were submitted, confirmed and signed.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter
(i) Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or
(ii) Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting
· Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest
· As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)
There were none.
Welcome everyone to today’s Council meeting. I would just like to address the technical issues we had in February’s Council. I think we can all agree it was a very turbulent meeting and I wanted to assure you all that since February, our wonderful Democratic Services Team have had technical engineers in, and have run tests to ensure the technology does not let us down again. So, fingers crossed that technology is on our side today.
I do not think we can proceed without acknowledging the devastation we are currently witnessing in Ukraine. It is almost impossible to believe that in this day and age we are witnessing such atrocities which since the end of World War II, we thought we would never see on European shores again. It really is hard to express the horror, anger, despair, and heartbreak that we feel right now.
You may have seen when you arrived this morning that we have raised the flag of Ukraine in solidarity with Ukrainian people. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in Ukraine and pledge to do all we can to support them and indeed the democracy and freedom that we too often take for granted.
So, I ask you all to join me this morning for a one-minute silence for those not only in Ukraine but their friends and families around the word.
We stand with you. (After silence) Thank you!
International Women’s Day
It is wonderful to see International Women’s Day becoming a more prominent, worldwide recognised event. This year’s theme is ‘Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow’. Standing here today I am a big advocate of women being effective, powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation, mitigation and response to build a more sustainable future for all. This month I was lucky enough to join the High Sheriff, Dr Julie Llewelyn at Royal Holloway and come together with a host of remarkable women. We crossed our arms in the #BreakTheBiaspose to show solidarity. My online post, accompanied with our photo can be found on SCC Daily.
Surrey Police – Pass Out Parade and Ceremony
It was a joy to attend the Surrey Police Pass Out Parade and Ceremony at Loseley Park. It is always a great honour to mark the end of months of hard work and training for the new recruits and welcome them into force. I am pleased to see so many joining Surrey Police and I wish them all the very best in their future policing careers.
Queens Award for Voluntary Service
Congratulations to all Surrey residents who have been nominated to receive a Queens Awards for Voluntary Service. HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux held a ‘thank you’ reception where I had the pleasure of meeting Surrey’s nominees. Our volunteers dedicate their valuable time and experience to help individuals and communities across the county. This award is the equivalent of an MBE and is the highest honour given to UK volunteers. Exceptional voluntary work has ... view the full agenda text for item 20/22
The Chair noted:
· That her full announcements could be found in the Council agenda front sheet and led the Council in a one-minute silence in solidarity for Ukraine.
The Leader to make a statement.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions and/or make comments.
The Leader made a detailed statement. A copy of the statement is attached as Appendix A.
Members raised the following topics:
· That the war in Ukraine was a humanitarian crisis, millions faced daily horrors and sought sanctuary.
· Welcomed the change in rating from Inadequate to Good overall for Youth Offending Serviceand noted that three areas were rated Outstanding.
· Welcomed the change in Ofsted rating in Children’s Services from Inadequate to Requires Improvement overall.
· That the problems raised in the Ofsted inspection report needed to be acknowledged and that greater progress needed to be made at pace.
· That whilst Surrey Corporate Parenting Board meetingshad strong engagement, Surrey’s Corporate Parenting Strategy was outdated.
· That the decision to remove the highway functions of the Local and Joint Committees was conducted with little consultation and questions remained unanswered.
· That regarding the decision to close eight care homes, repairs should have been made earlier and sought reassurance that redevelopment would be considered imminently.
· Agreed that the Ukraine conflict put local political disagreements into context and welcomed the cross-party motions and support.
· Hoped that the administration would continue to listen to the suggestions of the opposition, noting the positive engagement with the Liberal Democrat Group regarding flying theUkrainian flag, to offer support to refugees and for the Surrey Pension Fund Committee to review its investments in Russia.
· Praised the efforts of staff in the change of Ofsted rating in Children’s Servicesand hoped that the original motion 8 (ii) would help progress to be made.
· That the Communities, Environment and Highways Select Committee robustly reviewed Your Fund Surrey and hoped that the Cabinet would agree the recommendations made and all recommendations from the Select Committees going forward.
· That with the improved rating, the Council was on its way to rating of Good which was a testament to the work of the late Executive Director of Children, Lifelong Learning and Culture, the current Executive Director and staff.
· Shared the frustration of many that little was being done to simplify the process in the UK of offering sanctuary to Ukrainian refugees.
· That the economic sanctions on Russia and Belarus remained inadequate.
· That more could be done in Surrey such as relinquishing stocks of Russian investments in the pension funds.
· That a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that scientific evidence was unequivocal that climate change was a threat to human wellbeing and the planet, imminent action was needed.
· The tripling in the forecast rise in household energy bills by October, yet geopolitics was dominated by thedependence on fossil fuels and their rising prices were driving the UK’s cost of living crisis.
· That the Council must lead by example in an invest to save scheme and energy advice services for all, home insulation would cut winter fuel bills and Your Fund Surrey could be used to transform the energy efficiency of Surrey’s community buildings.
· That the Council could renegotiate Surrey’s bus fares and services with bus companies and the Government ... view the full minutes text for item 21/22
1. The Leader of the Council or the appropriate Member of the Cabinet or the Chairman of a Committee to answer any questions on any matter relating to the powers and duties of the County Council, or which affects the county.
(Note: Notice of questions in respect of the above item on the agenda must be given in writing, preferably by e-mail, to Democratic Services by 12 noon on 16 March 2022).
2. Cabinet Member Briefings on their portfolios.
These will be circulated by email to all Members prior to the County Council meeting, together with the Members’ questions and responses.
There will be an opportunity for Members to ask questions.
Notice of twenty questions had been received. The questions and replies were published in the supplementary agenda (items 6 and 8) on 21 March 2022.
A number of supplementary questions were asked and a summary of the main points is set out below:
(Q4) Lance Spencer highlighted the table on the number of referrals to children’s social care provided in the written response which showed a drop of nearly 2% nationally compared to an increase of just over 4% regionally between 2017/18 and 2019/20. In Surrey the decrease was around 38% or just over 5,000 children that had disappeared from the system annually, he noted the concern when the Sure Start centres closed that many children without high needs would fall through the system. He asked whether the Cabinet Member for Children and Families had observed that to be the case and whether there were plans to recover those 5,000 children.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Children and Familiesdisagreed with the Member’s interpretation of the figures, children were not disappearing. She explained that the table detailed referrals as opposed to contact made and when children entered the social care system referrals were made by professionals and families. She was happy to follow up with the Member on the matter.
(Q6) Hazel Watson asked whether the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure agreed that the Council should publicise the fact that residents should not trail electric vehicle (EV) charging cables across pavements and should deter residents from doing that as they cause a safety hazard.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure agreed with the Member noting thatas per the written response, the Council published advice on its website on not trailing EV charging cables. He would liaise with the Council’s Communications team to see what more could be done via social media.
(Q9) Nick Darby expressed delight that there were defibrillators at Woodhatch Placeand the reception staff had been trained on how to use those. He asked whether it would be useful to have clear signage so that Members and staff know their location.
The Chair suggested that it would be good to have a training session for Members on how to use the defibrillators.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Property and Wasteagreed that signage and possibly a map of their location should be in place and should be sent to Members. She would look into a training session and the appropriate team to deliver it.
(Q11) Lance Spencerhighlighted the Council’sambitious plan to attract £120 million funding under the Bus Back Better scheme but noted disappointment that the Council would get only £18 million. He noted that it was necessary to invest in zero emission buses. He asked how the Council would encourage greater use of buses going forward, noting the increased fares and reduced frequency of buses.
In response, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure noted disappointment that the bus sector was continuing to struggle particularly ... view the full minutes text for item 22/22
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Any Member may make a statement at the meeting on a local issue of current or future concern.
(Note: Notice of statements must be given in writing, preferably by e-mail, to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Monday 21 March 2022).
Mark Sugden(Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott)made a statement on the recent approval of a Your Fund Surrey application for the Claygate Community Pool project at Claygate Primary School. He thanked all those involved and noted that the project would provide a significant long-term sustainable benefit for the community.
Rachael Lake(Walton)made a statement on the recent work which had started on a new free school: Heathside Walton. Whilst welcome, it was being built near the roundabout off Terrace Road which would mean four schools and leisure facilities in close proximity. The Council was running feasibility studies for two of those schools - to follow - the plots identified were on Green Belt sites with one on a flood plain and landlocked. She hoped that her concerns would be looked at.
Item 8 (i)
Catherine Powell (Farnham North) to move under standing order 11 as follows:
This Council notes that:
Surrey Highways devotes a great deal of time and resource working with utility companies to identify unmarked assets requiring repair. Surrey Highways is committed to making sure that assets are kept temporarily safe until the utility company makes a permanent repair to their asset.
Currently, Surrey Highways has access to a limited number of asset maps for utility companies which are very useful and allow rapid identification of asset owners. However, Surrey Highways have no information at all for the majority of utility companies which makes identifying unmarked assets time consuming, resulting in adverse impacts on the travelling public for longer periods than necessary.
The six month grace period granted to utility companies to leave in place temporary repairs before making permanent repairs can often have an adverse and unreasonable impact on residents and businesses.
Therefore, this Council requests the Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure to lobby Government to:
I. Introduce a statutory requirement on utility companies to share any electronic asset maps with Local Authorities, updated at least annually, to support the Local Authorities in identifying the ownership of unmarked assets for repair work.
II. Introduce a statutory requirement for utility companies to work with Local Authorities using technology such as passive RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags to support easy identification of assets owners starting with areas of:
a. Significant number of assets owned by different organisations in close proximity (for instance junction areas) where maps are less effective;
b. Regular damage to assets by vehicles or vandalism.
III. Reduce the interim reinstatement period from 6 months to 1 month.
IV. Extend the 2-year guarantee period of utility repairs undertaken by utility companies to 5 years.
V. Introduce a timescale for repairs for ‘Section 81’ (of NRSWA) for Defective Apparatus, so that utilities must complete repairs in a short time period once reported of no more than 3 months.
Item 8 (ii)
Jeremy Webster (Caterham Hill) to move under standing order 11 as follows:
This Council notes:
This Council further notes:
“Children and their families benefit from effective early help services.”
The Chair explained that regarding original motion 8 (v) standing in the name of Tim Oliver which was published in a supplementary agenda (item 8) on 17 March 2022, she had agreed with Group Leaders that as Chair she would be proposing the motion. This fifth motion - agreed cross-party - was received after the fourteen-day deadline, in accordance with Standing Order 11.8 ‘An original motion may be considered without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent’. The Chair noted that due to the subject matter she had decided to take the motion first.
Item 8 (v)
Under Standing Order 12.3 the Council agreed to debate this motion.
Under Standing Order 12.1 Helyn Clack (Chair) moved:
This Council notes:
That the Russian attack on Ukraine is not just an invasion of a sovereign state, it is an attack on everything we believe in and stand for. It is an attack on freedom, democracy and self-determination.
That the terrible experiences of the people of Ukraine cannot be ignored and warrant the strongest possible action on simple humanitarian grounds as well as in support of freedom, democracy and self-determination.
· Deplores the situation in Ukraine brought about by the unwarranted, unprovoked and unprecedented Russian leadership’s aggression and invasion of the country.
· Stands in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
This Council resolves to:
I. Fully engage in and support national schemes for Ukrainian refugees, to identify accommodation and homes for those arriving in Surrey, (provided by public agencies as well as Surrey householders), to assist those fleeing the country to find a safe haven here for as long as is necessary, and to facilitate their return to Ukraine as and when it is safe to do so.
II. Review and work to immediately relinquish any connections that the Council’s energy supplies, and general investments have to Russian interests.
III. Support the decision of the Surrey Pension Fund Committee to immediately suspend making any further pension investments in Russia and Belarus and continue to review existing investments with a view to exiting. This Council urges the Committee to do so as soon as possible.
IV. Promote as widely as possible the mechanisms by which Surrey residents can donate and support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
V. Continue to fly the Ukrainian flag as a gesture of support at our Council Headquarters in Woodhatch Place and other buildings, until such time as hostilities cease.
Helyn Clack made the following points:
· That it was a motion of solidarity with the Ukrainian people following an unprovoked and continuing war initiated by Russia.
· That there had been wide news coverage and heartfelt descriptions of the situation.
· That the invasion was an attack on freedom, democracy and self-determination, rights enjoyed in Surrey through democratic accountability.
· That her heart went out to the Ukrainian people with many fleeing and some staying behind, led by their brave President.
· Had been moved by correspondence from residents offering to open their homes to the ... view the full minutes text for item 24/22
For Members to note the headline activity of the Council’s overview and scrutiny function in the period January to March 2022 asking questions of Scrutiny Chairs as necessary.
The Chair welcomed the report which was the first of its kind presented to Council.
The Chair of the Select Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs’ Groupintroduced the report and highlighted that the newly introduced update report would be provided to Council three times a year in addition to the Scrutiny Annual Report. He thanked the Select Committees’ Chairs, Vice-Chairs, Members and Scrutiny Officers. He welcomed feedback from Members.
1. That Council reviewed the work summarised in the report providing feedback to Scrutiny Chairs as appropriate.
2. That the Select Committees report to Council three times a year.
To receive the report of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 22 February 2022 and 7 March 2022.
The Leader presented the report of the Cabinet meetings held on 22 February 2022 and 7 March 2022.
Recommendations on Policy Framework Documents:
There were no reports with recommendations for Council.
Reports for Information/Discussion:
22 February 2022:
A. Working with the Big Fostering Partnership
B. Local and Joint Committee Highway Functions
C. Accelerating the Introduction of Ultra-Low and Zero Emission Vehicles - Approval to Procure 34 Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses
7 March 2022:
D. Department for Education Safety Valve Agreement
E. Quarterly Report on Decisions Taken Under Special Urgency Arrangements: 01 February 2022 – 14 March 2022
1. That Council noted that there had been one urgent decision in the last month.
2. That the report of the meetings of the Cabinet held on 22 February 2022 and 7 March 2022 be adopted.
Any matters within the minutes of the Cabinet’s meetings, and not otherwise brought to the Council’s attention in the Cabinet’s report, may be the subject of questions and statements by Members upon notice being given to Democratic Services by 12 noon on Monday 21 March 2022.
No notification had been received by the deadline from Members wishing to raise a question or make a statement on any matters in the minutes.